As someone who was raised on Motown music by a father from Detroit, one of the first singers that I learned about was the incomparable Aretha Franklin, who could seemingly belt out notes in effortless fashion. There was no one like Aretha, which is why her music has transcended time, even in her death.
So when I learned there was going to be an Aretha musical biopic, starring Jennifer Hudson (someone I knew wouldn’t disappoint as Ree in the portrayal), it became one of my most anticipated films of the year.
Hudson is gracing this week’s cover of Entertainment Weekly, which focuses on Respect, the title of the Aretha film and one of her most popular songs from a storied career. EW also released some exclusive photos from the film, which feature a look at Hudson as Aretha, as well as the other characters that were instrumental in her life.
In an interview with EW, Hudson reveals that the Queen of Soul told her — after Hudson had won an Oscar for Dreamgirls — that she expected Hudson to do the same playing her.
“We met in New York, and one of the first things she said to me was ‘You’re gonna win another Oscar for playing me, right?’ Imagine Aretha Franklin looking you in the face and saying that,” Hudson, now 39, says with an improbably harmonious cackle. (Yes, even her laugh sounds like a melody.) “I was like, ‘Eh, uh, eh… I can try.’”
Well, it certainly feels like that’s where this is headed.
Here’s a look at the trailer, which was released earlier this year.
Respect hits theaters on Jan. 15, 2021.